Before Saudi Arabia

The Birth Of A Nation

Saudi Arabia’s roots can be traced back to the earliest civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Throughout history the peninsula has played an important role in as an ancient trade center and the birthplace of Islam.

Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has been astounding. In just a few short decades, the Kingdom has turned itself into a modern, sophisticated state and a major player in the global economy.

Early History

Located between the two great centers of ecomerce, both the Nile River Valley and Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula was the centre of the ancient world. Trade was crucial to development. Caravan routes became trade arteries that made life possible in the sparsely populated peninsula.

People of the peninsula developed a trade network compremising routes to transport agricultural goods sought after in the surrounding regions; Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and the Mediterranean Basin. Items included almonds from Taif, dates from the many oases, and aromatics such as frankincense and myrrh from the Tihama plain. Spices were also important trade items. They were shipped across the Arabian Sea from India and distributed accordingly.

People of the Arabian Peninsula remained largely separate from the political unrest the engulfed the economies of the time. Their goods and services were in great demand regardless of which power was dominant – Babylon, Egypt, Persia, Greece or Rome. As an additional protection the peninsula benefited from the great expance of desert that formed a natural barrier protecting it from invasion by powerful neighbors.

The Birth of Islam

Around the year 610, Muhammad, received a message from Allah via the Angel Gabriel. As time passed he received further revelations instructing him to proclaim the oneness of God universally. With great efforts, and under direction of  Allah, the Prophet Muhammad’s following grew.

In 622 he learnt of an assassination plot against him. The Prophet led his followers to the town of Yathrib, which was later named Madinat Al-Nabi and now known simply as Madinah. This is known as the Hijrah, or migration, markinng the begining of the Islamic calendar.

Over the following few years, several battles took place between the followers of the Prophet and  the pagans of Makkah. By 628, when Madinah was entirely Muslim. The Prophet had unified the tribes; so successfully that he and his followers reentered Makkah without bloodshed.

The Islamic Empire

Less than 100 years after emergance of Islam, the Islamic Empire had reached as far as Spain, India and China. Despite the political centers of power had now moved out of the Arabian Peninsula, trade flourished in the area. Also, a large number of pilgrims regularly visiting the peninsula. May pilgrims later settled in the two holy cities; Makkah and Madinah. These pilgrims facilitated the exchange of ideas and cultures.

The emergence of Arabic as the language of international learning was another major progression. The Islamic world became a center for learning and scientific development during the period now known as the “Golden Age.” Muslim scholars contributed to many fields; medicine, biology, philosophy, astronomy, arts and literature. Many of the ideas and methods later became the foundation of modern sciences.

The Islamic Empire thrived until the 17th century. After this it broke up into smaller Muslim kingdoms. The Arabian Peninsula gradually entered a period of relative isolation.